Back in May of 2017, I was in Greenville, South Carolina, and received a Twitter direct message from a “Kenny Goulet,” inviting me to come out to Greenville Country Club. I told him I’d be there, rain or shine. Little did I know this invitation would change my life forever.
As I often find myself, I showed up to play with three random guys from Twitter, this time in monsoon-like conditions and with an open mind to the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed course. “Kenny Goulet” turned out to be a true gentleman named G.H. Two of his regular foils, Wes (the club champion) and Chaney (who morphs from a 2 to a +6 when the pressure is on), joined us and introduced me to the glorious madness that is Wolf Hammer. I’d played wolf and I’d played hammer, but never like this. Chaney and Wes made sure to add that neither had been to an ATM in 18 months because of their association with G.H.
My initial experience at GCC was one of the most fun rounds I’d played in years and I left determined to get back as soon as possible with the entire NLU crew. Fast forward to PGA Championship week in 2017, when we were able to knock out 36 rainy, fantastic holes before heading up to Charlotte. Before we go over the rules, I want to make clear how quickly things can get WILDLY out of hand.
The Basic Structure of Wolf Hammer:
- In four-man Wolf Hammer, going blind lone wolf (before anyone has teed off), multiplies every bet (the hole and all the junk, which is spelled out below) by four. Going solo after you hit, multiplies everything by three. Going alone after everyone else hits, multiplies everything by two. If you pick a partner, everything is worth one dot.
- Starting on the 16th hole, the individual who is down the most money becomes the wolf and can dictate the value of dots henceforth. This holds true for the remainder of the round (for instance if the person down the most going into 16 comes out way ahead and is no longer behind then the new lowest person is the wolf and dictates dot value on 17). This gives the low man on the totem pole a chance to win their money back… Or find a deeper hole.
- The main strategy elements lie in the choosing of your partner and the timing of the hammers and takes. The “junk” (listed out below) plays out on its own. All points for each hole go the team as a whole. If my partner gets a Hogan, that’s a point for each of us. If we each get a Hogan, we each get two points, etc.
Each item below is worth a “Dot.” Print these out and take them with you to the course, because you’re gonna need them.
- HOLE – Lowest score on hole (net or gross to be determined before first tee shot is hit for the day)
- BIRDIE: One Dot
- EAGLE: Two Dots
- ALBATROSS: Three Dots
- HAMMER: May be thrown at any time by either team, adding a “Dot” to the hole you are playing. The hammer is then held by the other team to be thrown back at will.
- TAKE: Taking the Hammer adds another “Dot” to the hole you are playing. If you decide not to Take, you lose the dot from the original hammer. (Unless you’re already out of the hole, you should take.)
- DROP/TAKE: Must be declared before moving forward on the course. You cannot improve your position on the course to determine if you want to take or drop. If you move forward then a Take is in effect.
- BOOMERANG: When a hammer is thrown and accepted and the opposing team immediately throws the hammer back then a boomerang dot is added (in addition to the hammer + take).
- GREENIE: Par 3’s only, closest to pin on the green in regulation and you must make par or better.
- SANDY: Par or better from any bunker (double sandy is possible if you make par or better).
- POLEY: Par or better putt holed from outside the length of the flagstick. If a poley is of questionable length, poley MUST be measured and determined before putting.
- BUGLER: Audible fart during your swing on the tee shot only, must make par or better. The signal to allow your playing partners that a fart may be coming is “Quiet please!”
- ADOLF: When you take two shots from the same bunker the opposing team gets a Dot.
- SADDAM: When you go from one bunker to another bunker the opposing team gets a Dot.
- CREEKIE: When you take a penalty stroke from being in the hazard and make par or better. No penalty stroke means no creekie.
- HAAS: In honor of fellow GCC member, Bill Haas. If you are in a water hazard and make a visible splash while hitting a shot and you make par or better
- YO, ADRIAN!: Ball bounces off rocks (not cart path) – hence Rocky Balboa – and you make par or better. As approved at the summit, the rock wall on No. 9 at Chanticleer is included as a Yo, Adrian.
- RATTLER: When the ball hits the flagstick and you make par or better. You cannot use putter to make a rattler.
- OFFNER: Any shot that goes in from off the green for par or better without the use of the putter.
- HOGAN: When you hit the fairway and the green in regulation and make par or better. On a par 5, your second shot (if it’s short of the green) must also be in the fairway.
- JUNKMAN: When you miss the fairway and the green in regulation and make par or better. On a par 5, your second shot must also miss the fairway.
- WASABI: When you stick your approach in regulation inside the length of the flag stick and you make par or better.
- DOUBLE WASABI: Stick your second shot on a par 5 or your tee shot on a par 4 inside the flag stick and you make par or better. You earn 2 dots.
- NASCAR: Two feet in the bunker while the ball is outside the bunker (trouble in turn 2) and you make par or better.
- SEVE: When your ball is in a foreign fairway – ball MUST be in the short grass – and you make par or better.
- STAR WARS: Ball hit OB and you make par or better
- TC CHEN: Double hit of the golf ball means the opposing team gets a Dot.
- TAINT: When the ball is between two bunkers and you make par or better. You must establish your foot position with your ball between your feet before reaching for the bunkers. If you can reach two separate bunkers with a rake in either hand without moving your feet, the taint is in play.
- RAMBO: First dot of the day gets an extra dot for their team after drawing first blood. For clarification, a Wasabi is not an earned dot until putted and made par or better; same for a Hogan.
- KY: When a team wins 7 OR MORE dots on a hole an extra dot is added because they just got violated.
- O.J.: When a team wins 10 or more dots on a hole, an extra dot is added. Double (digit) murder.
- DOTTIE PEPPER: Two team members make birdie or better on the same hole.
- MENAGE: 3 team members birdie or better on the same hole; 1 dot. Note: Dottie Pepper is also awarded when a menage is won.
- MOANBACK: When the ball hits something and bounces further back than the original position the shot was played from and you make par or better.
- BIN LADEN: Bunker to a water hazard or OB; Dot for other team
Wolf Hammer Use Case (And How It Can Get Out of Hand):
Let’s say you’re on the back nine and down a bit but hitting it well. You decide to go blind lone wolf on a par 4 that fits your eye. The other three guys hit the fairway and green, two hit it within the flagstick and make birdie, and the other hits it in the bunker and gets up and down for par by making a putt from outside the flagstick. Meanwhile you miss the fairway, the other team hammers and you take. You end up hitting the green and making a solid two-putt par. Not bad! However, you just lost hole, hammer, take, Hogan, Hogan, wasabi, wasabi, Dottie Pepper, birdie, birdie, sandy, poley, KY, O.J. That’s 14 dots, and lets say their worth $3 apiece. Multiply that by four because you went blind lone. Despite making par, you now have to pay out $168 EACH to your three opponents.
Surgeon General’s Warning: PLAY WOLF HAMMER AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The best way to learn the game is to be the scorekeeper, as it makes you think through the hole and the strategy. To score it, keep a running tab of the dollar amount a person is up or down for the day. The total should always net to zero, so if players A and B win two dots on the first hole, they sit at “2” and players C and D sit at “-2.”